Almost two hours later, after I submitted my Chinese and American Holiday project, my teacher sent me an email with an attachment. The attachment was my project with some additional kind words and beautiful art by my wonderful and thoughtful teacher. She was basically telling me how I wrote “too much” when writing my sentences in Chinese. By using a red font color, she crossed out several words that I needed to take out.
Following the advice given to me, I proceeded to edit my project. Once completed, I literally felt like my sentences looked “anorexic”, they were simply too short! However, I still submitted it as it was and shockingly I received an “A”. I curiously asked my teacher for an explanation on the difference between the two times I submitted my project. Her explanation was simple and short “incorrect grammar”. Eventually I found out that in Chinese certain usage of auxiliaries, verbs and verb inflections are unnecessary because they are applied in the Chinese sentence word order. As a result, some of my sentences were accurate in a way, but also inaccurate. My project led me to question the difficulty of Chinese grammar versus the difficulty of English grammar. When you think about it, Chinese grammar seems to have less rules to follow by and majority of English speakers don’t accurately write “correct” English since there are so many rules and different ways to write ONE sentence but with the same meaning. Maybe learning to write and speak Chinese is truly easier than learning to speak and write in English.
Another great example of English grammar versus Chinese grammar is demonstrated by a very close friend of mine who was initially from China, but came to the United States to live with her parents. Originally, she loved the idea of living in the “Land of the Free” however, when she entered high school and had to turn in several assignments for English, she was mortified! Her papers received low scores, not because her essay didn’t follow the instructions that were given to her, but because of her lack of English grammar understanding. She tried to explain to her teacher her situation, but due to her teacher’s ignorance of the grammar difference of her native language and English, her explanation was in vain. It makes me ponder how big is the grammar difference between the two languages and the effects that this “difference” can have on Native Mandarin speakers in American schools?
My experience, and my friend’s experience, unintentionally revealed new insight and new untold knowledge. Although my friend had to physically, and mentally, transition into another country, language and culture, I only had to transition into another culture and language in a mental aspect. The actual correlation between the two experiences is our transition into two different languages and our discovery about their distinct rules for grammar. Although both experiences occurred a couple of months ago, I am still amazed how different two languages can be, but still convey the same meaning or purpose. As complex language may seem, it truly is a magnificent ocean of words and symbols waiting to be used, manipulated, and created into many beautiful forms.